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Meta’s chip deal with Qualcomm reflects its unrealistic VR ambitions

Qualcomm and Meta have signed a multi-year deal that promises to team up on “future roadmap of Quest products” and custom versions of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR chips for “other devices,” according to Mark Zuckerberg.

In some ways, however, the move is business as usual — the Quest 2 is powered by a Snapdragon XR2 chipset — as it faces declining revenue and offers insight into Meta’s compromises as it tries to rein in the spiraling costs of Mark’s Metaverse project. .

What the Qualcomm deal shows is that Meta’s upcoming headsets, which include high-end headsets codenamed Cambria and later, newer versions of its cheaper Quest headset, won’t be running entirely on custom Meta-designed silicon.

While competing companies like Apple, Amazon and Google are making product decisions based on custom chip designs like the M2, Graviton3 and Tensor – and Meta’s team has been dedicated to doing the same since 2018. This press release says the chips are “optimized” for meta needs. However, we don’t know how much space Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR can put between its “premium” devices and hardware from other manufacturers that are closer to the reference designs.

In April, to the edge Meta employees are reportedly working with semiconductor fabs — companies that actually produce physical chips — to make custom chips for its yet-to-be-announced AR headset. In the same month, Information Some of Meta’s efforts to create custom chips are reportedly hitting roadblocks, forcing it to use a Qualcomm chip for its second-generation Ray-Bay smart glasses instead of its own silicon.

Qualcomm reference designs for wired and wireless smart glasses

Qualcomm reference designs for wired and wireless smart glasses
Qualcomm

Tyler Yee, a Meta spokesman, said the company would not discuss details about how its roadmap has evolved and would not comment on specific plans it has for custom chips for Quest products. However, Yee shared a statement on the company’s “generic approach to custom silicon,” saying Meta doesn’t believe in a “one-size-fits-all approach” to the technology powering its future devices.

“There may be situations where we use off-the-shelf silicon or work with industry partners on customizations, as well as explore our own novel silicon solutions. There may also be situations where we use both partner and custom solutions in the same product.” He \ he said. “It’s all about doing what it takes to create the best Metaverse experiences possible.”

The background to all of this is being under a lot of stress. Meta’s revenue fell for the first time ever (thanks to Apple’s changes to how apps are allowed to track users), and Zuckerberg made clear plans to turn up the heat on employees, saying, “I think some of you might say, ‘This place isn’t for you. And that self-selection is fine with me.'” There is.” At the same time, he’s making a big bet on Metaverse — a company that’s spending and losing billions of dollars a year on a project that includes AR and VR headsets.

This is a high level game where the meta probably wants to play as close to the chest as possible. But for now, it looks like hardware customers have access to with Zuckerberg’s Metaverse (if they’re going to do that instead of playing Strike the saber) powered by someone else’s chips.

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